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Get county definitions right
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Dear Editor,
Recently the news media has reported, “the University of Kansas will have what it says is the smallest four-year medical education site in the country when eight students begin taking classes on Monday on a satellite campus in Salina. The move is in response to a shortage of rural doctors in the United States.” 
How will this “satellite campus” “effect” rural Kansas?
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Serivces, Rural Health Policy (2007) “ ... defining rural does make a difference in ensuring limited resources intended to address critical rural needs actually are transmitted to locations that have those needs.” 
The Kansas Health Policy Forums, Forum Brief, No. 7, 1/2004, “Is the Health Care Systems Sustanaible in Rural Kansas?  .... at the current rate of population decline, the provision of health and health care services in many frontier and rural counties in Kansas eventually will become economically unsustanable.” 
So why would you define a county with the population density the size of Saline as rural? 
There is no county in western Kansas (Barton County is the geographical center of Kansas) the size of Saline County, a semi-urban county or an urban county, (like Shawnee or Douglas counties). 
If you utilize a Kansas Department of Health and Environment Definition, one based upon data rather then an ideology or opinion or feeling what “rural” is, one can construct Kansas counties as frontier counties (less then six people per square mile), rural counties (six to 19.9), densley settled rural (20 to 39.9), semi-urban (40 to 149, i.e, Saline County) and urban (150-plus). 
Of the 46 counties in western Kansas, 30 counties are frontier (65 percent), 11 counties are rural (24 percent) and five are densely settled rural counties (11 percent).  
While I am “happy” for Saline County to receive this honor, my question remains: how will this “medical school” “effect” the entire western half of Kansas frontier, rural, and densley-settled rural counties that do not have the infrastructure Saline County has?  
In eastern Kansas, east of Barton County, most counties are within two counties of a county the size of Saline or larger.
Lee Flamik,
Rush Center